Divided Venezuelans march for, against Chavez
Thousands of Venezuelans marched on Saturday in protests against President Hugo Chavez while thousands of his supporters held their own rallies, a sign of the sharp split in the OPEC nation over the socialist leader's policies, Reuters reported.
Chavez remains popular with the poor and workers after living standards rose during an oil boom. But other Venezuelans are fiercely opposed to the leftist leader who has nationalized much of the economy and this year clamped down on opposition politicians and the media.
Many are also angry about a new education law that boosts the government's control over schools and universities. Venezuelan children return to school next week after the summer break.
"I am fighting for my daughter and all the children of Venezuela because they have no future with this man," said a demonstrator in Caracas named Elian who declined to give her last name because she works at a government ministry.
Opponents are also angry at the government for shutting dozens of radio stations last month. On Saturday, Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello said 29 more will be closed soon.
There have been a number of marches this year, and anti-government protesters often scuffle with police. But the tension is not nearly as high as it was in 2002, when huge protests ended in a several deaths and a coup that briefly ousted Chavez.